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New bill targets North Carolina sex offender registry

Co-sponsors and proponents of proposed sex registry-based legislation in North Carolina say that it is merely administrative in nature and needed for budgetary reasons.

That is a bogus claim, responds one public defender who echoes a similar sentiment held by defense attorneys, civil liberty advocates and other groups across the state.

That commentator views the would-be law -- now denoted as North Carolina House Bill 684 -- as flatly punitive in nature and misaligned with any intent to help individuals who have fully served their sentences reintegrate into public life.

"It just doesn't make sense that if we're going to release someone from prison that we're not going to enable them to become productive citizens," she says.

What HB 684 proposes is this: making released individuals who are on the state's sex offender registry pay for their inclusion on that list, pursuant to an initial $90 charge and a subsequent outlay annually in the same amount.

Debate on the matter is a certainty, with adherents' claims that the exaction is justified being countered by criticism that the legislation simply embodies a further attempt to unfairly single out and punish select offenders who have satisfied all conviction-based impositions.

According to state government data, there were 14,275 individuals no longer in jail or prison on the sex-offender list in 2016. If they had all paid the proposed $90, notes a recent article spotlighting HB 684, incoming funds to counties across the state would have collectively brought in about $1.3 million.

The legislation mandates that refusal to pay will not result in omission from the list, with non-performers being potentially targeted by the state in civil actions.

Clearly, inclusion on the state's registry can be highly adverse for multiple reasons, with it making strong sense for any individual on the list to explore all opportunities that might lead to removal.

We note on our criminal defense website at the Mecklenburg County Law Office of Christopher Connelly that, "Fortunately, there are certain instances that allow an individual to be removed" from the registry.

We can discuss removal possibilities and strategies with individuals seeking guidance and possible next steps to take regarding this clearly important legal matter.

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